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Nils Petter Molvaer: Colors, Noises and Moods

Adriana Carcu By

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NPM: I close my eyes in order not to have any distraction but the sound, and also in order to concentrate fully on what I am doing—to go with the flow, to find the path. For me, it is more like not thinking at all; it is more like a state of meditation that helps you center yourself.



AAJ: Do you have communication with the public then? Can you tell the difference from public to public?

NPM: Absolutely! That's when you communicate best. You can tell the difference by the vibrations, by the energy that is set in motion. It is the same thing when you meet an individual. You can tell right away if they have a good energy. It like a big, organic thing and you can tell right away if there are good vibrations or not. And if it is really, really good, you always remember it.

AAJ: As you are touring the whole world—you are just coming from Strasbourg and are heading for Spain and then Poland—do you sense a difference in perceptions? Are there regions that you would define as warmer than others?

NPM: Sure. By the way, the Poland tour just got canceled because it looks like the promoter ran off with the money. But yes, there are quite a few warm areas on the map. There's a club called Roxy in Prague that comes to my mind, and there's a small place in Poland I remember very well, also most places in Germany are very receptive to our music, like here at the Enjoy Jazz festival.

AAJ: Germany has remarkable public support for all musical genres, maybe because Germans are such a melodic people.

NPM: True. In general, the countries from Eastern and Central Europe also have a very open approach to our music and a very open attitude. We just had a tour in the Middle East and there's a fantastic place in Istanbul called Babylon—a very picturesque location too. The place is always full and emanates very good energy.

AAJ: Why those countries?

NPM: I think the reason is that they have been part of a closed system for such a long time and now, when they have opened up, they are fresh and hungry for new things as compared with New York or Paris, where there is such a strong tradition and where people, so to speak, grew up with jazz.

AAJ: Last year you performed at the Garana Jazz Festival in Romania. What was your impression?

NPM: Garana was fantastic—an incredible place. There was a huge storm, but the whole atmosphere was magical. They have a very good public there.

AAJ: What has been the biggest place you have performed at so far? How big can a place get for jazz?

NPM: I think the biggest would be the open-air show in Karlsruhe, called Das Fest, where we had 60,000 people.

AAJ: You are quite active doing film music. In what way do you interact? Are you illustrating?

NPM: I try to find something that sort of encapsulates the soul of the character. I would rather say that I am amplifying. When you have a landscape you can illustrate it, but when you do real music you try to go in and be the soul of the character.

AAJ: When is a film good? Is it when you remember the music or when you don't?

NPM: I think that both the film and the music are good when you remember the main theme. Have you seen Dances with Wolves (1990)? I didn't really like the score there. What I like are the scores in Spielberg's movies—think about the theme in Jaws (1975)—or Stanley Kubrick films. Do you remember the theme in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)? And then you have those fantastic, beautiful themes like in Deer Hunter (1978), or the music of Ennio Morricone or Goran Bregovic. If you come to think of it, generally in movies there are very few themes that try to amplify the soul; most of the time it is mere illustration.

AAJ: Famous last question: plans and projects?

NPM: I try to stay healthy, take care of my body and my brain now that I am over 50, and enjoy being with my kids. In the first half of January, I am going to develop some ideas in the studio and start working on a new album. If all goes well, it will come out in the autumn or maybe even earlier. I am going to do music for two movies, one of them for a Polish project, and I have quite a few tours next year.

AAJ: Are you working alone?

NPM: I am working partly alone but also with my new guitarist, Stian Westerhus. We'll see what comes out of it. We want to keep it open.

Selected Discography

Food, Quiet Inlet (ECM, 2010)

Nils Petter Molvær, Hamada (Sula, 2009)

Nils Petter Molvær, Re-Vision (Sula, 2008)

Nils Petter Molvær, Remakes (Sula, 2005)

Nils Petter Molvær, er (Sula, 2005)

Nils Petter Molvær, Streamer (Sula, 2004)

Nils Petter Molvær, NP3 (Emarcy, 2002)

Nils Petter Molvær, Solid Ether (ECM, 2001)

Nils Petter Molvær, Recoloured (Emarcy, 2001)

Eivind Aarset, Light Extracts (Jazzland, 2001)

Nils Petter Molvær, Khmer (ECM, 1997)

Bugge Wesseltoft, New Conception of Jazz (Jazzland, 1997)

Marilyn Mazur/Future Song, Small Labyrinths (ECM, 1997)

Masqualero, Re-Enter (ECM, 1991)

Sidsel Endresen, So I Write (ECM, 1990)

Masqualero, Aero (ECM, 1988)

Masqualero, Band à Part (ECM, 1985)

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